Toilets built in houses under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) have either been “totally shut for summer”, or used as store roomsl.
Tikamgarh (Madhya Pradesh): A poem penned by local poet Rijju Raju in Bundelkhandi dialect poignantly depicts how the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) has brought miseries for people of water scarce villages in the parched region of western Madhya Pradesh.
“Souchalaya khaan paani naiyan, bahar hume karne nai de raiye (There is no water to use in toilets, still we are denied to relieve in the open),” the lines in the poem seemed to have struck an emotional chord with the locals for the narrative vividly described their daily ordeals.
Meena of Mastapur village in Tikamgarh district in Bundelkhand region of MP, said, “A tank located three km from our village is the only source of drinking water since the lone hand pump in the village has gone dry. In this situation, each member of the family will need five to six litres of water for going to toilet.”
Toilets built in the houses in her village under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) have either been “totally shut for summer”, or used as store rooms. The village has around 400 households.
Kassi Kushwaha of Hamma said, “A lota (metal pot) of water is all that is needed to wash if one chooses to relieve in the jungle. For us water is too precious to use in toilets,” he said.
Toilets constructed in thousands of households in rural areas in parched Bundelkhand region of MP have remained unused as the locals struggled to get a few pitchers of water for their daily use (for cooking and drinking purposes) by tapping water sources far away from their villages. Abandoned toilets are a common sight in the water scarce villages of Sendhpa, Biro, Kisangarh, Gohadibaksaha, Ranital, and Sangrampura in Chhattarpur and Bori, Bomrikala, Pahadikhurd, Tihrika, and Bomrikala Van in Tikamgarh district. “The SBM in villages facing serious water crisis has proved to be damp squib and the abandoned toilets in the houses in the parched region of rural Bundelkhand bear testimony to it,” said social activist P. Guwahara. “For the water problem villages, SBM is a misnomer,” he said. In fact, an official survey on the SBM in five districts of the Bundelkhand region of MP has revealed that nearly 70 per cent of toilets built under SBM are not used due to water shortage.
According to the survey report, 4,88,758 of the total number of 7,02,047 toilets built in rural areas of Sagar, Chhattarpur, Tikamgarh, Damoh and Panna districts of the Bundelkhand region, under SBM, are without water.
A senior officer posted in Sagar division commissioner’s office, which administers the Bundelkhand region, admitted that SBM has got derailed in villages reeling under acute water crisis because locals have been forced to relieve in the open instead of using toilets in their homes.